As spring arrives, it brings along with it a whole host of bright, fresh, seasonal ingredients.
A trip to a local farmers’ market is a brilliant way to discover lots of local ingredients all in one place, and often you’ll find it’s a great chance to find and try something new.
We’re really lucky to have a number of such markets in Edinburgh that take place every weekend in Stockbridge, Leith and Castle Terrace. It’s lucky for us that they all pitch up just a few minutes from The Kitchin, The Scran & Scallie and Dominic Jack at Castle Terrace, so it’s easy to pop by before or after service.
I know a number of our staff were very happy at the arrival of the market in Leith as they got a chance to pick up a few things from some of the great local suppliers to take home and enjoy.
What’s great about farmers’ markets is being able to talk directly to the producers. Nowhere else can you hear more about the produce you’re buying, where it’s come from, the passion behind it and how it has been prepared.
A lot of the producers will also be able to give you advice or inspiration about how to prepare and cook with the ingredients you buy.
From fresh vegetables, and Scottish cheeses and seafood to responsibly farmed meats, shopping at the farmers’ market can make a fun day out and encourage you to try new dishes with the produce you find there. This week I’m sharing some recipes that might help you make the most of your farmers’ market finds.
• 500g pork shoulder on the bone
• vegetable oil, for frying
• sea salt and cracked black pepper
• 2 tbsp flour
• 5 large carrots
• 1 onion
• ½ leek
• 1 stick celery
• ½ bulb of garlic
• 1 small bunch sage
• 1 bunch of thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 100ml brandy
• 100ml madeira
• 800ml chicken stock
• 300g pork caul fat
• 4 baby pearl onions, peeled
• 75g pancetta, cut into lardons
• 8 buttons mushrooms, halved
• 200ml chicken stock
• 1 small bunch parsley
• bay leaves to garnish
1 In a large, heavy-based pan heat 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium to high heat. Season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper, dust with flour and caramelise until dark golden all over. Remove and allow fat to drain on a rack and reserve for later.
2 Cut three of the carrots in half at an angle and caramelise in the pork fat with a pinch of salt until dark. Roughly chop the onion, leek, celery and garlic and add to the carrots.
3 Sweat the vegetables all together, with the sage, thyme and bay leaf for 15 minutes, then add the brandy and madeira. Reduce until dry, then add the pork back to the pan.
4 Cover with the chicken stock and simmer gently for 3-4 hours, until the pork is falling off the bone. Remove the pork from the liquid and rest on a tray. Strain the vegetables and reduce the liquid to a sauce consistency. Shred the pork shoulder then mix half of the sauce in. Adjust the seasoning. Allow to cool, then shape into golf-ball-sized spheres. Wrap the balls in a single layer of caul fat, then chill in the fridge.
5 In a pan of seasoned water, simmer the pearl onions until tender. Cut the remaining carrots into 1cm rounds and cook in the same water. In a frying pan, sauté the lardons until crisp. Add the button mushrooms and cook for five minutes until tender. Drain the carrots and onions and add to the pan.
6 Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. To glaze the pork balls, place in a pan and add some of the reserved sauce and a ladle of chicken stock. Bring to the boil, baste and place in the oven. Cook, basting every four minutes, for 20 minutes, until the pork balls are caramelised and dark, coated in sauce. Add the meatballs to the carrots, mushrooms, pancetta and onions and garnish with parsley and bay leaves.
• 3 large carrots
• 3 tbsp caster sugar
• 200g puff pastry
• 30g blanched hazelnuts
• 2 oranges
• 4 baby heritage carrots (different colours)
• 100g goat’s cheese, diced
• extra virgin olive oil
• sea salt
• finely cracked black pepper
• 1 bunch baby watercress
1 Cook the large carrots whole in seasoned boiling water. When cooked, allow to cool slightly, then cut into long batons about 5mm by 10mm. Arrange the batons in a row then cut circles out using a 85mm round cutter.
2 Take two tatin pans and divide the caster sugar between them. Over a medium heat, allow the sugar in both pans to dissolve completely, making a caramel.
3 Place the carrot circles into the caramel then top with a circle of puff pastry. Bake in the oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Turn the tatins out on to a rack to cool.
4 Roast the hazelnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden and crush lightly. Peel the oranges and cut into dice from the segments. Wash and peel the baby carrots, then slice thinly along the length. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
5 Add the goat’s cheese and diced orange to the carrots and hazelnuts and garnish with the watercress. Arrange everything on top of the carrot tatin and drizzle with olive oil.